I got up at 03:00 to get to the airport for a 6AM departure on Continental. As usual, Brinky’s was there right on time and it was a pleasant, albeit dark, drive to the airport. It turns out that this dark drive was the first of many!
Check-in at Continental was pleasant and fast. Even better, my Nexus card got me to the front of the security lineup. I checked in 2 bags and had my backpack as carry-on.
The plane to Houston left on time, and I dozed off and on for the flight, Arrived in Houston ahead of time and settled in. Daniel’s flight was pretty much on time and we met at the gate with enough time to order a bite to eat. However the restaurant was too busy to deliver the meal in a timely fashion and Dan had to take his lunch ‘to go’.
On to Lima … plane left on time with reasonable travel weather. We crossed the equator and headed to South America in the dark.
Landing in Lima was amazing. I never realized that Lima is both a city and a ‘province’ made up of a collection of ‘administrative districts’. Population of the province is over 7million, and from the air at night you can tell it is huge. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lima_Province and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_districts_of_Lima for more on this.)
Immigration is a simple matter – fill in the form, stand in line, smile at the agent, and get the passport stamp. (Remember to keep the second part of the form tucked away safely, because it’s needed to get out.) Wander through the duty free area as one enters the country (man … there are a lot of bright colours), and get to the baggage area.
We got to the baggage area around 10:00 PM. Dan and I chatted while waiting for my baggage. He only used carry-on. We were tired and distracted each other, so when I spotted my main bag, I grabbed it and we left.
We need to go through the customs area. The main concern is import revenue, and protecting local agriculture from foreign contaminants. Simple matter of handing the customs form (yet another form) to the customs agent and pushing a button to determine whether you are going to be inspected or just let through. Both Daniel and I got the green light and out the door to the hawkers of taxi rides.
An hour later I realized I had forgotten my smaller bag. (sigh) That will prove to give an adventure in itself.
Our hotel was the Doubletree in Miraflores. Miraflores is one of those administrative districts in the Lima ‘province’. A $45 / ½ hour cab ride later we check in to the hotel around and get to the room around midnight. There was a taxi desk just outside the customs area, but before the various individual driver get to molest you, so I grabbed a round trip fare. If you ask, they will give a discount on the round trip – but you gotta ask.
The drive was ‘interesting’. Lima has older, impoverished areas and we drive through areas that I would hesitate to walk through (probably because of the cultural differences). Houses surrounded by tall gates with electrified or razor wire at the top, or garden walls deliberately topped by broken glass, could unnerve me. However, viewed from the inside of a safe taxi (actually a Limo, based on what we were later to recognize as ‘taxi’) while listening to a golden oldies DVD, things were merely interesting, rather unnerving.
Note to self: Going to the hotel from Lima airport, arrange the taxi at the desk just outside the customs area, and get the round trip price.
We are supposed to meet Ben at the hotel, or have some communication with him, since we need to catch the 8AM flight, and we find out that means leaving the hotel by 5AM. Nothing, so I send him an email.
All in all it was simply a day of travel.
Good night! From an incredible upgraded room in Lima are.